Sometimes I wonder how people think things work behind the scenes here at Massively Overpowered, so let me give a little peek behind the curtain. I stopped doing Choose My Adventure columns partway through 2018 because while it’s a fun romp, I didn’t actually have the time to devote to a new game on a regular basis and thus wasn’t able to provide the thorough breakdowns I wanted any longer. Our newcomer Chris Neal is on the column now, and he’s both a great guy and a fun writer. There was not, in fact, an elaborate battle in an arena in which he defeated me for the right to write the column.
That did happen once, but that was back for the Star Wars: The Old Republic column when it first started, and in retrospect, it wasn’t worth the bloodshed.
However, I still did some touring through games this past year, and tradition dictates that this is the time to start recapping those adventures! And conveniently that covers four games, which last year was just half of my recaps, so it really does work out great. So let’s take a look back at the games I toured over 2018.
Boy, for a game I was nervous about playing, Project Gorgon won me over hard. This wasn’t something I expected! I figured I would be impressed by the audacity of the title’s much-ballyhooed weirdness and strange skill lists, but not terrible charmed by the actual gameplay. And to be sure, the gameplay does have issues, but they’re not the sort of issue that overpower the fundamental joy of this weird, iconoclastic, idiosyncratic title.
It’s ugly. That’s the biggest flaw the game has, and it’s not just in terms of its graphics when I played, with a lot of lacking guidance or signposting that would help improve the experience. But it was also a whole lot of fun to hop in, experiment, and generally wonder what the hell I was going to find around the next corner. I was annoyed sometimes by bits of the content, but I was certainly never bored.
And let’s be real, any game with psionic mantises wearing hats was going to charm me into next week. It shouldn’t have even been a question for me.
Boy, for another game I was nervous about playing… yeah, this one won me over again. If there’s one thing that Warframe does badly, it’s actually offering tutorials or guidance, and it is really bad about that, something a huge number of long-time fans were quick to point out about the game. I can see exactly why people are going to bounce off of this title for that exact reason, and it’s a shame because the game itself is an absolute blast once you have a little help getting past that burden.
Shooting things is fun. Playing in teams and rampaging through enemy strongholds is fun. Powering up and trying new frames is fun. The open-world areas are fun. The story is fun, and it has a beautifully baroque setting that wisely skips details it doesn’t care about while giving you enough space to build a foundation. It reminds me a bit of a comic that my mother gifted to me when I was much younger (and have been unable to find since), the sort of science fiction setting from comics in the ’80s and ’90s wherein there is clearly a great deal of backstory that you just don’t happen to have explained.
It’s a shame how bad the game is at getting people into it because once you’re in you can’t help but be impressed. It’s also a shame how stingy the game is with new toys early on, since more toys make the game a lot more fun. Ah, well.
Gosh, a third game I was nervous about playing? At least here endeth the gush.
One of the points I made when I started this is that I can’t really evaluate Ultima Online on a critical level because nobody can. The game’s place in history and overall pedigree makes it more or less exempt from any questions of “is the game any good or not” because at this pint it has sort of earned the right to be whatever it wants and it literally kicked off our whole genre.
So the question is then not about whether or not this game is any good. The question for this experience was whether or not its newly added free-to-play mode was any good? To which the answer is an emphatic no.
Not only does the free-to-play mode stop you from doing most of the stuff that would actually make you want to play the game over a longer period of time, it also completely lacks anything approaching guidance or explanation, seemingly removing stuff that was already in the game to help guide new players. You can make your own guesses about why that happened, but the reasons barely matter; what matters is that anyone new trying the game out will hit a brick wall basically immediately. That doesn’t make it a bad game, but it does mean that it’s not worth dipping your toes in even with the business model shift.
Final Fantasy XI
And another game I was nervous about playing for totally different reasons. The thing is that I wasn’t worried about being able to get into Final Fantasy XI or enjoy playing it; the concern was entirely a matter of whether or not that could be made interesting and entertaining to read, or provide any actual insight about the game as a whole.
As a result, I tried to focus on both making this a tutorial about getting into the game as well as a challenge to see how far I could get without any outside support. The answer, as it turned out, was pretty darn far using my knowledge. In a month I managed to reach level 50 on an advanced job with a fresh character who had not, in fact, done any other leveling up to this point. It wasn’t even a month of relentless play, which pretty insane to me as someone who got used to leveling being a very gradual and slow process back at launch.
So I think it definitely succeeded at providing some new insight and coverage. Whether or not I succeeded in making it entertaining to read is not something that I am actually the person to ask about; I had fun, at least.
And with that, I wrap up my own time with this particular feature, with a look back on a year that at least had a fun time for the games I played. It’s a fun feature, and it’s in good hand; I know I’m eager to see where Chris heads from here (he’s dived in the deep end with Star Citizen first). Feel free to leave your own feelings on the recap down below; I might be off to play some more Warframe. It’s fun!
Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you once joined Eliot each week as he journeyed through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you got to decide his fate. Now he decides his own fate. It generally still involves lizards and cats.